No, the Law Does Not Require Separating Immigrant Children from Parents

Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders have been lying through their teeth about the administration’s policy of ripping children away from their parents if they cross the border. PolitiFact calls the claim false, but it’s more than that. It’s an outright lie and an incoherent argument as well, especially when they blame it on the Democrats and say that they are the ones who need to fix it.

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there (sic) parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.,” Trump tweeted.

Trump recently told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, “I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough, but those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families.”

There is, of course, no such law. There is an administration policy that everyone who crosses the border illegally must be immediately charged criminally, even if they request asylum. Previous presidents have put asylum seekers into family detention centers, which keeps them together until they can get a hearing before a judge to consider their case, after which they are either allowed into the country or deported — but kept together as a family the entire time, regardless of the outcome.

When pressed on what law they’re referring to, the White House cites a law that is totally irrelevant, one that deals with minors who show up at the border unaccompanied by their parents. Those children are already separated from their parents, so that law has nothing whatsoever to do with this policy. Add another lie to the list. But let’s also think about this: Who is in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House? The Republicans. Which means that even if such a law did exist, the pressure Trump says needs to be brought to bear to change the law would have to be on Republicans.

There isn’t a single Democrat in Congress who would vote against such a law, but they don’t have enough votes to pass it and the Republicans control what comes to the floor for a vote. If Trump actually thought separating children from their parents was a bad thing in these situations, he could subjit a bill to do that and his own party would have to pass it. There is no such law, of course, but even if there was his argument would be absolutely, incontrovertibly false and illogical.

Trump is simply not capable of ever accepting responsibility for his own actions. Everything is someone else’s fault, even if he personally gave the order, as he did in this situation.

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